Formula One has arrived in Austin, Texas. And based on practice, a fine weekend awaits…

Howdy Sunday Afternooners! Here’s a quick Friday Afternoon post to quietly suggest that it might well be worth setting aside some of your weekend to keep up with events in Austin, Texas.

The first, free practice session has just ended and it was… kind of scary. We can’t verify this, but we think every single car went off the circuit at some point this afternoon. Certainly more opposite lock was applied in the first 90 minutes on the new Circuit of the Americas than in the rest of the season to date.

More alarmingly, there is clearly more than one point on the circuit where a following car can have no idea what’s happening on the other side of the bend. You could see driver’s heads turned more than a little anxiously backwards as their cars rotated. It was cold, the sun was very low, and it was beyond dusty. No grip, tricky vision and a new track; this was always going to sort the men from the boys and it did. The three best drivers came out on top of the timesheets: Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

However…glup. For those looking for some close racing this weekend the actual times don’t spell out much hope; Vettel was one-point-four-seconds faster than Hamilton, who was another 0.6secs faster than Alonso. Admittedly Vettel set his time right at the very end, when the dust to rubber ratio began to favour grip, but it is alarmingly fast for those who would like an end to the season in Brazil. Button and Webber came in next fastest. Don’t forget those top three teams — Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari — didn’t come to this race unprepared, they will have been running simulations all year.

Still, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. It’s clearly a great track even if its ‘Best of the World’s Other Circuits’ concept is a little bit Vegas to us. There is another practice session at 19.00 this evening if you have Sky and can make a good enough excuse to leave work/the pub early enough…

If you don’t have Sky then it’s qualifying highlights on the Beeb at 22.30 tomorrow and the race at the same time. But you are a smart lot, we’re sure you can find a way to keep up. We think it might be worth it. We’re putting that Vettel time down to good luck, okay?

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